Archives for category: Ethics

Jackie Goldberg is running for re-election to the Los Angeles Unified School Board. She is an experienced public official who has supported public schools for decades as a school board member and state legislator. A rightwing billionaire dumped nearly half a million into her low-budget race to try to stop her in the March 3 election (early voting has already started.)

Jackie was endorsed by the UTLA along with Scott Schmerelson, George McKenna, and Patricia Castellanos. Vote for them if they are candidates in your district.

Jackie sets the record straight here:

Dear Friends, Families, and Board District 5 Voters,

By now, you may have received a number of mailings telling you to “Vote ‘No’ on Jackie Goldberg”, all of which are being sent by a man named Bill Bloomfield, who lives in Manhattan Beach, CA.

Bloomfield is extremely wealthy and was a Republican until 2011 when he became an “Independent.”  He avidly supports charter school candidates and opposes all progressive Democrats.  So far this election cycle, he has spent almost $130,000— on “hit” pieces against me.  But this is far from his first rodeo.  He was part of the $13 million worth of lies that were used in 2017 against then-Board President Steve Zimmer, and he helped bankroll part of the $10 million spent to spread lies about Board Member Bennett Kayser in 2015.

In 2019, Bloomfield’s contributions to the California Republican Party totaled $445,000.  He also spent $7,583,806 to try to elect Marshall Tuck to be State Superintendent of Public Instruction.  Tuck ran on a platform of increasing support for the state’s charter schools.  Bloomfield not only supports charter schools over district public schools, he also opposes raising taxes on the wealthy to increase funding for public schools.

This very, very rich financier has never met me, never interviewed me as to my views, and has repeatedly distorted the truth to send you bald-faced lies about me and my 22-year record of public service.  His goal is to defame me to stand in the way of my quest to raise taxes on the rich and to make charter schools more transparent, equitable, and accountable.

Let me respond specifically to some of the many lies Bloomfield has been peddling about me in his monstrously misleading mailers.

LIE:  Bloomfield’s mailers attempt to paint me as a racist.

TRUTH:  I have lived in Echo Park for the last 40 years.  My son went to LAUSD schools that were primarily composed of Latino students.  I taught high school in the Compton Unified School District for 17 years and was one of two teacher-leaders to define plans that raised the reading of our students from the bottom of state testing in reading to the State average.

Among my campaign endorsers are Dolores Huerta, co-founder of the United Farmer Workers, County Supervisor Hilda Solis, State Senator Maria Elena Durazo, La Opinion, Maywood City Councilmembers Elizabeth Alcantar and Eddie de la Riva, Bell City Councilmembers Fidencio Gallardo and Alicia Romero, Padres Unidos in South Gate, and Congressmembers Maxine Waters and Judy Chu, among others.

These leaders and community organizations, as well as La Opinion, do not endorse racists!

LIE:  Bloomfield claims my “agenda is too extreme and too dangerous for kids!”  He attacks me for removing funding for DARE, an anti-drug program for which the district paid millions of dollars to the Los Angeles Police Department.

TRUTH:  The LAUSD Board of Education discontinued funding for DARE after a study revealed that, in spite of great intentions, the program was a complete failure in reducing student drug use.

LIE:  Bloomfield, remarkably, suggests that the National Rifle Association (“NRA”) loves me.

TRUTH:  I have a lifetime “F” grade from the NRA because when I was on the Los Angeles City Council, I wrote and passed a measure that outlawed sales of cheap “Saturday Night Specials” in Los Angeles.  While on the Public Safety Committee in the State legislature, I helped kill major legislation that would have made gun ownership more protected, and thus increase the chance for all of us and our children to be victims of gun violence.  What I actually voted against that Bloomfield’s mailer attempts to misrepresent was a bill that would have automatically expelled a student for bringing to school a toy gun that may look like a real gun.  Though I do think this would be a dangerous and foolish thing for a student to do, I believe that all students should have a right to a hearing before being expelled.

LIE:  In one of his most insidious smears, Bloomfield claims that I support sexual predators.

TRUTH:  I voted against a bill that included so many limitations for where a convicted sex offender could live that there literally would be nowhere left for them to go.  And I did so because I knew that the California courts would overrule the bill and we would be left with noprotections on where sex offenders could live after being released from prison.  Sure enough, after its passage, the California Supreme Court did just that, ruling that the law was unconstitutional because the state could not have a law that left people with no place to live.  The following year, my Assembly colleagues and I passed a law preventing sex offenders from living near schools, parks, and other places where children might be.

LIE:  Bloomfield attacks me for the terrible crisis at Miramonte school.

TRUTH:  I was not even on the Board at that time of the Miramonte crisis.

LIE:  Bloomfield suggests voters have to choose between me and President Obama, claiming that I voted to shut down Teach for America.

TRUTH:  I did not vote to shut down Teach for America.  What I did do is raise the issue that a great many Teach for America teachers leave our District in two or three years.  I said that the District should recruit people who want to be teachers, not build their resumes—and I still believe that to be true.

LIE:  Bloomfield misleadingly claims that I cut programs for students of color.

TRUTH:  In the 2001-2002 school year, the state legislature was facing a huge budget shortfall.  The state was in a deep recession.  Yes, I voted for the budget.  In those days, it took a 2/3 vote to pass a budget, so allAssembly Democrats had to vote for the budget, or else the state’s services—including funds for schools—would be shut down.  Did I have to vote on a budget that took $9.8 billion from schools and public universities?  Sadly, I did.  But that was after fighting and winning the battle to avoid larger cuts of $14 billion.

LIE:  Bloomfield claims that I “forced Latino students to attend academically inferior and dangerous schools.”  He then points to a 1985 U.S. Department of Justice investigation of the District.  Notably, his source relates to issues in South Gate and Watts.

TRUTH:  The boundaries of the Board Districts that each School Board member represents were not the same in 1985 as they are today.  Though South Gate is currently in my Board District, I did not represent either South Gate or Watts during my first time on the Board when the Department of Justice’s investigation began, and I had nothing to do with the issues that brought upon the investigation.

LIE: Bloomfield claims that in my first tenure on the Board, student scores dropped.

TRUTH:  Student test scores were low in the 1980’s.  Why?  Because when Proposition 13 passed, the District literally lost 25% of its General Fund money due to big corporations and the wealthy no longer having to pay their fair share in property taxes.  Schools became overcrowded.  Most were on multi-track, year-round schedules, and funding to build new schools was rigged against the District.  It was because of my work and the leadership of then-Speaker of the State Assembly Robert Hertzberg, however, that the Assembly and Senate finally set aside several billion dollars for LAUSD and other severely overcrowded districts, which resulted in 131 new schools being built.

My record of support for public education is long, significant, and well-documented.  That is why UTLA, the teachers’ union, SEIU Local 99, the union representing teacher aides, cafeteria workers, CSEA Local 500, which represents library aides, the Teamsters AND the union representing school principals and administrators have all endorsed my campaign.

So, I urge you not to believe the vicious lies that this conservative, anti-public school millionaire is spreading about me in order to try to stop my work trying to tax the great wealth in this state and get our state legislators to invest in our children and youth again.  My mother taught in LAUSD for 40 years.  I grew up committed to public education, and I have never wavered in my support for full and adequate funding for public schools—from pre-school through college.  I was a youth activist in the civil rights movement, and I continue to spend my life working to improve the lives of the next generation.

I often remind people that our children are not part of the future—they are our entire future.  We must all work together to improve our state and federal governments’ investment in our children and youth.  California, if it were a separate nation, would be the fifth richest nation in the entire world.  While New York spends $29,000 per student in their schools, California only spends $16,500 per student.  Great change is needed.  I ask you to join me in this fight for FULL FUNDING for our public schools.  The time is NOW!  Please honor me with your vote on or before March 3.

Thank you,

Jackie Goldberg
Board Member, LAUSD Board of Education, Board District 5

Estimados amigos, familias y votantes del Distrito 5 de LAUSD,

Les escribo porque seguramente ya  han recibido en su correo uno de varios anuncios que les han enviado pidiéndoles que “Voten No por Jackie Goldberg”,  de parte de alguien llamado Bill Bloomfield, que vive en Manhattan Beach, CA.

Bloomfield es alguien extremadamente rico quien había sido Republicano hasta el año 2011, cuando cambió a ser “Independiente”.   El apoya firmemente a los candidatos que cuentan con el apoyo de las escuelas charter y se opone a todos los candidatos Demócratas progresistas.  Hasta la fecha ha gastado casi $130,000 atacandome en anuncios como éste. Pero no es la primera vez que hace esto.  En el 2017 fue uno de los que pagó por los anuncios llenos de mentiras sobre Steve Zimmer, presidente de la Junta Escolar. Y en 2015 ayudó a financiar los $10 millones de dólares que se gastaron para esparcir mentiras en contra de Bennett Kayser.

En el 2019, contribuyó $445,000 al Partido Republicano de California.  También gastó $7,583,806 para tratar de elegir a Marshall Tuck como Superintendente de Instrucción Pública. La postura de Tuck fue de apoyar el apoyo para las escuelas chárter. Bloomfield no sólo apoya a las escuelas chárter en vez de las escuelas públicas del distrito, además se opone a alzar los impuestos a los ricos para aumentar los fondos para las escuelas públicas.

Este hombre de finanzas tan pero tan rico, no me conoce, nunca me ha entrevistado para conocer mis puntos de vista, sin embargo se ha dedicado a distorsionar repetidamente la verdad con terribles mentiras sobre mí y mis 22 años de servicio al público. Su objetivo es difamarme por el hecho que yo busco aumentarle los impuestos a los ricos y lograr que las escuelas charter se comporten de forma más transparente, equitativa y responsable.

Permítame responder, de manera específica, a algunas de las muchas monstruosas  mentiras que Bloomfield ha estado diciendo sobre mí.

LA MENTIRA: Los anuncios intentan decir que yo soy racista.

LA VERDAD:  He vivido en Echo Park durante los últimos 40 años. Mi hijo fue a una escuela de LAUSD, cuyos estudiantes en su mayoría eran Latinos.  Fui maestra de preparatoria en el Distrito Escolar Unificado de Compton durante 17 años y junto con otra maestra líder, preparé un plan que logró mejorar la lectura de nuestros estudiantes, y subir nuestros resultados de los más bajos en el estado a el nivel promedio.

Entre las personas que apoyan mi campaña cuento con Dolores Huerta, co-fundadora de la Unión de Campesinos, Hilda Solís, Supervisora del Condado de Los Angeles, la Senadora María Elena Durazo, La Opinión, los Consejales Elizabeth Alcantar y Eddie de la Riva de Maywood, Fidencio Gallardo y Alicia Romero de Bell, el grupo Padres Unidos de South Gate y la Congresista Maxine Waters y Judy Chu, entre otros.

Ninguno de estos líderes, ni de estas organizaciones de la comunidad, ni el diario La Opinión apoyan a candidatos racistas.

LA MENTIRA: Bloomfield afirma que “¡mis propuestas son muy extremas y muy peligrosas para lo estudiantes! Me ataca por haberle quitado fondos al programa DARE, “ un programa contra drogas en el que el Distrito pagó millones de dólares al Departamento de Policía de Los Angeles.

LA VERDAD:  La Junta Escolar de Los Angeles descontinuó los fondos para el programa DARE después de que un estudio demostró que a pesar de tener buenas intenciones, el programa fue un verdadero fracaso en reducir el uso de drogas entre los estudiantes.

LA MENTIRA:  De manera muy extraña, Bloomfield sugiere que la Asociación Nacional de Rifles (NRA por sus siglas en inglés), me adora.

LA VERDAD:  La NRA, me dió una calificación de “F” de por vida cuando era Consejal de la Ciudad de Los Angeles, debido a que logré que se aprobara una medida que prohibía la venta de las armas baratas llamadas “Saturday Night Specials” en Los Angeles.  Cuando fui miembro del Comité de Seguridad Pública en la Legislatura, ayudé a darle fin a una ley que protegía aún más la compra de armas, pues esto aumentaba la posibilidad de que cualquiera de nosotros, incluyendo a nuestros hijos, fueran víctimas de la violencia armada. A lo que se refiere Bloomfield es que voté en contra de que un joven se le expulsara por traer un arma de juguete que parece de verdad. Aunque creo que esto es algo peligroso y tonto, creo que todos los estudiantes merecen una audiencia antes de que se les expulse.

LA MENTIRA:   En una de sus ataques más engañosos, Bloomfield alega que yo apoyo a los depredadores sexuales.

LA VERDAD:  Yo voté en contra de una ley sobre dónde puede vivir un depredador sexual, que resultaría en que no pudieran vivir en ningún lado.  Voté de esta forma porque sabía que las cortes de California iban a revocar esta ley y que entonces no tendríamos ninguna protección para determinar donde los depredadores pueden vivir al salir de la prisión. Como lo predije, la Suprema Corte de California revocó la ley, dictando que la ley no cumple con los requisitos de la Constitución puesto que la ley no permite un lugar en donde vivir. El año siguiente, mis colegas en la Asamblea y yo pasamos una ley que evitaba que los depredadores vivieran cerca de escuelas, parques y otros lugares cerca de dónde hay niños.

LA MENTIRA: Bloomfield me ataca por la terrible crisis que sucedió en la escuela Miramonte.

LA VERDAD:  Yo ni siquiera era miembro de la Junta Escolar cuando sucedió la crisis de Miramonte.

LA MENTIRA:  Bloomfield sugiere que votar conmigo es votar contra Obama, porque voté para que se cerrara el programa Teach for America.

LA VERDAD: Yo no voté para cerrar el programa Teach for America.  Lo que sí hice fue expresar preocupación por el hecho de que una gran mayoría de los maestros de Teach for America se van del Distrito en dos o tres años. Dije que el Distrito debe reclutar a personas que realmente quieren ser maestros a largo plazo en lugar de hacerlo solamente para mejorar su currículum – y aún mantengo esta opinión.

LA MENTIRA:  Bloomfield dice, de manera engañosa, que yo recorté programas para estudiantes de color.

LA VERDAD:  En el año escolar 2001-2002, la legislatura estatal se enfrentaba a un tremendo déficit.  El estado se enfrentaba a una profunda recesión.  Sí, vote a favor de presupuesto.  En ese tiempo, se requería que ⅔ de los representantes en la Asamblea votarán a favor, y por lo tanto todos los Demócratas tenían que votar a favor, o de otra forma los servicios que provee el estado, tendrían que recortarse. ¿Fue necesario que votara por un presupuesto que le quitó $9 mil millones de dólares a las escuelas y a las universidades públicas? Tristemente, lo fue.  Pero esto fue después de luchar y de ganar la batalla para evitar mayores recortes, de $14 mil millones.

LA MENTIRA: Bloomfield alega que yo forcé a “estudiantes Latinos a que asistieran a escuelas académicamente inferiores y peligrosas”. Para demostrarlo, presenta una investigación del Distrito que llevó a cabo el Departamento de Justicia en 1985. De forma notable, ésta investigación se refiere a los temas de las escuelas en South Gate y Watts.

LA VERDAD: Los límites de los Distritos que cada miembro de la Junta Escolar representa no eran iguales a los límites de hoy.  Aunque South actualmente está en mi Distrito, yo no representaba a South Gate ni a Watts cuando yo fui miembro de la Junta Escolar y cuando la investigación del Departamento de Justicia se inició y yo no tuve nada que ver con los asuntos que resultaron en esa investigación.

LA MENTIRA:  Bloomfield alega que durante mi primer término en la Junta Escolar, los resultados de los exámenes de los estudiantes disminuyeron.

LA VERDAD: Los resultados de los exámenes eran muy bajos en los años 80. ¿Por qué? Porque cuando se aprobó la Proposición 13, el Distrito perdió literalmente el 25% de los fondos generales debido a que las grandes corporaciones y los ricos no querían seguir pagando lo que les correspondía en los impuestos sobre la propiedad.  Aumentó la sobrepoblación en las escuelas.  Muchas de ellas estaban en calendarios de todo el año y el financiamiento para construir nuevas escuelas estaba diseñado en contra de las necesidades del Distrito.  Fue debido a mi esfuerzo y el de Robert Hertzberg, entonces líder de la Asamblea que la Asamblea y el Senado finalmente destinaron varios miles de millones de dólares para LAUSD y otros distritos que sufrían de sobrepoblación, lo cual resultó en la construcción de 131 nuevas escuelas.

Mi record de apoyo por la educación pública es largo, importante y bien documentado.  Es por esto que UTLA, la unión de maestros, el Local 99 SEIU que representa a los asistentes de maestros y trabajadores de cafetería, el Local 500 de CSEA que representa a bibliotecarios, el sindicato de los Teamsters y el sindicato que representa a los directores y administradores, todos apoyan mi campaña.

Por todo esto, les pido que no crean las mentiras que dice este millonario conservador quien se opone a las escuelas públicas. El quiere evitar que yo pueda seguir trabajando para poder lograr que la gente que cuenta con tantos recursos, tenga que pagar más en impuestos para lograr que nuestros legisladores puedan invertir en nuestros niños y nuestra juventud.  Mi madre trabajó en LAUSD durante 40 años.  Yo crecí comprometida a la educación pública y mi compromiso por un financiamiento completo y adecuado para los escuelas públicas – desde la pre-escuela hasta la universidad – nunca ha disminuído.  En mi juventud fui activista del movimiento de los derechos civiles y cada día de mi vida trabajo para mejorar la vida de las generaciones futuras.

A veces le recuerdo a la gente que nuestros hijos no son parte del futuro — ellos son el futuro entero.  Debemos trabajar juntos para mejorar la inversión que hace el gobierno en nuestros hijos y en la juventud. California, si fuera una nación separada, sería la quinta nación más rica del mundo entero.  Mientras que en Nueva York se gastan $29,000 por cada estudiante en las escuelas, California gasta $16,500 por estudiantes.  Se necesita un gran cambio.  Te pido que te unas a mi en esta lucha por lograr que nuestras escuelas tengan un FINANCIAMIENTO COMPLETO.  ¡Este es el momento!  Espero contar con el honor de tu voto el día 3 de marzo, o antes, si votas por correo.

Gracias,

Jackie Goldberg
Miembro, Junta Escolar de LAUSD, Distrito 5

Contribute
Paid for By Jackie Goldberg for School Board 2020
ID# 1417975
419 N. Larchmont Blvd., #37, Los Angeles, CA 90004
Jackie Goldberg for School Board 2020 · 419 N Larchmont Blvd # 37 · Los Angeles, CA 90004 · USA

I fear we are becoming insensitive to shock in the Trump era. And the very concept of “government ethics” seems to be an oxymoron in this era. Here are two shocking reports by Teresa Hanafin, who writes the Fast Forward commentary of the Boston Globe:

Trump holds another campaign rally tonight, this time in Toledo. Earlier in the day, he’s scheduled to announce some proposed National Environmental Policy Act regulations, and that’s never a good thing.

Trump is dramatically reducing the authority of the act, signed by Richard Nixon in 1970. The idea was that the federal government would protect the environment from excess by assessing the impacts of major projects — and include the public in the deliberations. Trump’s instinct is to protect private companies from any restrictions, nature be damned.

His action will make it easier to for companies to build pipelines, clear-cut forests, dig mines, drill for oil, etc.

It’s in keeping with the entire anti-environment stance of his administration. The New York Times found that Trump has reversed 58 policies related to air pollution and emissions, drilling and extraction, infrastructure, animals, toxic substances and safety, water pollution, and more. And he is in the process of rolling back another 37 regulations, for 95 in all.

Some of his actions have been reversed by courts because they violated the environmental policy act, so now he’s gutting the act. Scientists say Trump’s rollbacks could significantly increase greenhouse gas emissions and lead to thousands of extra deaths from poor air quality every year. Economist Paul Krugman predicts that environmental destruction will be a lasting legacy of what he calls the Republican Party of Pollution.


Ho hum, another day, another Trump coverup. This time Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin is trying to prevent Congress from finding out how much the Secret Service is spending on protecting Trump and his family during their frequent and extensive travels until after the November election.

This issue has arisen because Mnuchin is asking Congress to move the Secret Service back into his department — it was moved to Homeland Security after 9/11 — and congressional Democrats are using the request to try to pry travel cost information out of the service.

Despite the service’s failure to file reports about its spending on Trump’s travel, and the White House’s refusal to answer congressional questions about travel spending (what are they trying to hide?), there are some things we do know, according to The Washington Post:

— Trump has visited his properties outside of the D.C. area, such as Mar-a-Lago in Florida and his golf club in New Jersey, more than 50 times in the past three years.

— The government spent about $96 million on travel by Barack Obama during his eight years as president. Trump’s travel cost taxpayers $13.6 million in just one month in early 2017. At that pace, Trump would have exceeded Obama’s eight-year total in just seven months. Nothing succeeds like excess!

— Every time Trump goes to Mar-a-Lago, it costs taxpayers $3.4 million.For each trip.

— The Secret Service has spent $588,000 just on golf cart rentalsfollowing around the guy who said during his campaign that he was going to be too busy working to golf.

— Trump’s adult children also are gorging at the taxpayer trough. Even though they could easily afford private security, Don Jr. and Eric Trump,who don’t have a government job like Ivanka and aren’t students like Tiffany, take Secret Service protection when they travel overseas for their private business or go on illegal hunting trips.

One example: When Eric visited Uruguay in 2017 to promote the Trump Organization, he stuck US taxpayers with a bill of nearly $100,000 for hotel rooms to put up Secret Service and embassy staff. As the Post pointed out:

The Uruguayan trip shows how the government is unavoidably entangled with the Trump company as a result of the president’s refusal to divest his ownership stake. In this case, government agencies are forced to pay to support business operations that ultimately help to enrich the president himself. Though the Trumps have pledged a division of business and government, they will nevertheless depend on the publicly funded protection granted to the first family as they travel the globe promoting their brand.

Apparently Mnuchin’s refusal to tell Congress how much taxpayer money Trump is spending on travel security until after the election is causing some Democrats to withdraw their support for his request.

 

Our reader Laura Chapman wrote about a newly elected member of the school board in Cincinnati. He is a local executive for TFA. The board on which he will serve pays TFA $100,000 to supply inexperienced teachers. He should resign his TFA position or resign from the board. At the very least, he should recuse himself from any discussions of contracts for his employer.

Chapman wrote:

Some details on Cincinnati Ohio elections.

Ben Lindy won a seat on the Cincinnati School Board. Lindy is CEO of Teach for America (TFA) in Southwestern Ohio. He will NOT step down as regional CEO of Teach for America (TFA) in Southwestern Ohio. He has at least one conflict of interest of course, because Cincinnati Public Schools has been co-opted into sending about $100,000 to Lindy’s operation to hire TFA’s.

Lindy got 20% of the vote. Local editorials supported Lindy and attacked the teacher union for not endorsing Lindy. Lindy also raised MORE money than all the other candidates, a whopping $165,398, all for a seat whose pay is capped at $5,000 annually.

TFA executives and staff in 21 states and 26 cities outside of Ohio contributed to his campaign. About $13,000, came from Leadership for Educational Equity or LEE. LEE trains and supports TFA alums (like Lindy) who run for local, state, and national public office. In these positions, they launch unjustified criticisms of public schools, teacher unions, and elected school boards. They aggrandize test scores and they market computers as if these devices offered more “personalized” learning than human teachers.

Lindy was also supported by funders of Accelerate Great Schools. Accelerate Great Schools is the local version of the “Education Cities” effort to put more districts into a portfolio model, managed like stocks in a portfolio. You add, keep, or close schools based on their outcomes, meaning the test scores of students (and other measures in Ohio’s Report Cards where schools are graded, A-F). The Accelerate Great Schools coalition includes: • Cincinnati Business Committee, • Cincinnati Regional Business Committee, • Farmer Family Foundation (wealth from Cintas services), • Haile U.S. Bank Foundation, • KnowledgeWorks Foundation (promoter of computers to replace teachers), and • Archdiocese of Cincinnati. https://www.accelerategreatschools.org/who-we-are/^

Accelerate Great Schools hopes to call the shots if they can get enough people on the school board who approve of TFA temps, the charter school test-em-til-they-drop philosophy, and a portfolio model of privately-managed schools. Lindy and local reporters did not report this factoid: Ben Lindy’s wife, Paige Elisha Lindy, is the Chief of Staff and Operations at Accelerate Great Schools. It is not surprising that Arthur Rock, founder of Intel, worth $340 million, contributed to $4000 to Lindy’s campaign or that KnowledgeWorks, promoter of computer- centric education is in the orbit of the Accelerator. https://www.followthemoney.org/entity-details?eid=37970366

This will not stop the the Cincinnati Education Justice Coalition, advocates for traditional public schools, from calling out the many efforts to undermine public education and deprofessionalize the work of teachers.

 

 

The New York Times published a lengthy article about Bill Gates’ friendship with convicted sexual predator Jeffrey Epstein.

Gates visited Epstein’s lavish townhouse in Manhattan on several occasions. He hitched a ride on Epstein’s private jet. They engaged in lengthy discussions about philanthropy.

All of this hobnobbing happened after Epstein was convicted for soliciting prostitution from a minor and was required to register as a sex offender.

Gates says he now “regrets” the relationship.

Mr. Gates, the Microsoft co-founder, whose $100 billion-plus fortune has endowed the world’s largest charitable organization, has done his best to minimize his connections to Mr. Epstein. “I didn’t have any business relationship or friendship with him,” he told The Wall Street Journal last month.

In fact, beginning in 2011, Mr. Gates met with Mr. Epstein on numerous occasions — including at least three times at Mr. Epstein’s palatial Manhattan townhouse, and at least once staying late into the night, according to interviews with more than a dozen people familiar with the relationship, as well as documents reviewed by The New York Times.

Employees of Mr. Gates’s foundation also paid multiple visits to Mr. Epstein’s mansion. And Mr. Epstein spoke with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and JPMorgan Chase about a proposed multibillion-dollar charitable fund — an arrangement that had the potential to generate enormous fees for Mr. Epstein.

“His lifestyle is very different and kind of intriguing although it would not work for me,” Mr. Gates emailed colleagues in 2011, after his first get-together with Mr. Epstein.

Bridgitt Arnold, a spokeswoman for Mr. Gates, said he “was referring only to the unique décor of the Epstein residence — and Epstein’s habit of spontaneously bringing acquaintances in to meet Mr. Gates….”

Two members of Mr. Gates’s inner circle — Boris Nikolic and Melanie Walker — were close to Mr. Epstein and at times functioned as intermediaries between the two men.

Ms. Walker met Mr. Epstein in 1992, six months after graduating from the University of Texas. Mr. Epstein, who was an adviser to Mr. Wexner, the owner of Victoria’s Secret, told Ms. Walker that he could land her an audition for a modeling job there, according to Ms. Walker. She later moved to New York and stayed in a Manhattan apartment building that Mr. Epstein owned. After she graduated from medical school, she said, Mr. Epstein hired her as a science adviser in 1998.

Ms. Walker later met Steven Sinofsky, a senior executive at Microsoft who became president of its Windows division, and moved to Seattle to be with him. In 2006, she joined the Gates Foundation with the title of senior program officer.

At the foundation, Ms. Walker met and befriended Mr. Nikolic, a native of what is now Croatia and a former fellow at Harvard Medical School who was the foundation’s science adviser. Mr. Nikolic and Mr. Gates frequently traveled and socialized together.

Ms. Walker, who had remained in close touch with Mr. Epstein, introduced him to Mr. Nikolic, and the men became friendly.

In Jeffrey Epstein’s will, he named Mr. Nikolic as a fallback executor of his estate, in case the two primary executors declined.

Mr. Nikolic declined the designation.

We knew Bill Gates has bad judgment about education. Now we know he has appallingly bad judgment about people. Hasn’t he ever googled people before meeting with them? Isn’t there someone on staff to do it for him?

I’ve tried many times to meet with Bill Gates, with no success. I guess I don’t have the right connections.

 

Investigative journalist Jeff Bryant has published a bombshell article about entrepreneurs who operate superintendent searches, then call on their Superintendents to buy professional development, technology, training, and other services. The conflicts of interest and self-dealing are shocking. Districts lose millions of dollars and buy services they don’t need, while the search service continues to pay them.

Most of us are familiar with the case of Barbara Byrd-Bennett, former Superintendent of Chicago Public Schools, who is currently serving a jail sentence for taking kickbacks.  But the web of corruption has involved many superintendents and school districts.

Bryant writes:

In July 2013, the education world was rocked when a breaking story by Chicago independent journalist Sarah Karp reported that district CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett had pushed through a no-bid $20 million contract to provide professional development to administrators with a private, for-profit company called SUPES Academy, which she had worked for a year before the deal transpired. Byrd-Bennett was also listed as a senior associate for PROACT Search, a superintendent search firm run by the same individuals who led SUPES.

By 2015, federal investigators looked into the deal and found reason to charge Byrd-Bennett for accepting bribes and kickbacks from the company that ran SUPES and PROACT. A year-and-a-half later, the story made national headlines when Byrd-Bennett was convicted and sentenced to prison for those charges. But anyone who thought this story was an anomaly would be mistaken. Similar conflicts of interest among private superintendent search firms, their associated consulting companies, and their handpicked school leaders have plagued multiple school districts across the country.

In an extensive examination, Our Schools has discovered an intricate web of businesses that reap lucrative school contracts funded by public tax dollars. These businesses are often able to place their handpicked candidates in school leadership positions who then help make the purchasing decision for the same businesses’ other products and services, which often include professional development, strategic planning, computer-based services, or data analytics. The deals are often brokered in secrecy or presented to local school boards in ways that make insider schemes appear legitimate.

As in the Byrd-Bennett scandal, school officials who get caught in this web risk public humiliation, criminal investigation, and potential jail time, while the businesses that perpetuate this hidden arrangement continue to flourish and grow.

The results of these scandals are often disastrous. School policies and personnel are steered toward products that reward private companies rather than toward research-proven methods for supporting student learning and teacher performance. School governance becomes geared to the interests of well-connected individuals rather than the desires of teachers and voters. And when insider schemes become public, whole communities are thrown into chaos, sometimes for years, resulting in wasted education dollars and increased disillusionment with school systems and local governance.

Bryant lays out the evidence of collusion, corruption, and conflicts of interest. He reviews districts in Illinois, Maryland, and elsewhere. The evidence is devastating.

Nashville was victimized by entrepreneurs who manipulated the district and the process.

One of the first school districts to become entangled in the conglomeration of firms Wise and Sundstrom assembled was Nashville, which in 2016 chose Jim Huge and Associates to help with hiring a new superintendent. The following year the board hired Shawn Joseph, whom Huge had recommended.

Shortly after Joseph arrived in Nashville, according to local News Channel 5 investigative reporter Phil Williams, he began pushing the district to give $1.8 million in no-bid contracts to Performance Matters, a Utah-based technology company that sells “software solutions” to school districts.

Williams found Joseph had spoken at the company’s conference and he had touted the company’s software products in promotional materials while he was employed in his previous job in Maryland. Williams also unearthed emails showing Joseph began contract talks with Performance Matters two weeks before he formally took office in Nashville. What also struck Williams as odd was that despite the considerable cost of the contract, district employees were not required to use the software.

In addition to pushing Performance Matters, Williams reported, Joseph gave an “inside track” to Discovery Education, a textbook and digital curriculum provider and another company he and his team had ties to from their work in Maryland. With Joseph’s backing, Discovery Education received an $11.4 million contract to provide a new science, technology, engineering, art, and math (STEAM) program even though a smaller company came in with a bid that was a fraction of what Discovery proposed.

By June 2018, Nashville school board member Amy Frogge was questioning Joseph about possible connections these vendors might have to ERDI. A district audit would confirm that ERDI’s affiliated companies—including Performance Matters, Discovery Education, and six other companies—had signed contracts totaling more than $17 million with the district since Joseph had been hired.

Frogge also came to realize that all these enterprises were connected to the firm who had been instrumental in hiring Joseph—Jim Huge and Associates.

“The search that brought Shawn Joseph to Nashville was clearly manipulated,” Frogge told Our Schools in an email, “and the school board was kept in the dark about Joseph’s previous tenure in Maryland and his relationships with vendor companies.”

Frogge said some of the manipulation occurred when the search firm told school board members that disputes among current board members—over charter schools, school finances, and other issues—indicated the district was “‘too dysfunctional’ to hire top-level superintendents and therefore needed to hire a less experienced candidate.”

But previous investigations of school leadership search firms conducted by Our Schools have found companies like these frequently forego background checks of prospective candidates they recommend, promote favored candidates regardless of their experience or track record, and push board members to keep the entire search process, including the final candidates, confidential from public scrutiny.

“Too often, national search firms are also driven by money-making motives and/or connections with those seeking profit,” Frogge contended. That conflict of interest is a concern not only in Nashville but also in other districts where school leaders with deep ties to education vendors and consultants have resulted in huge scandals that traumatized communities and cost taxpayers millions…

Frogge noted school boards have alternatives to using private search firms that promote tainted candidates willing to feed the search firms’ side businesses.

“School board members need to become better informed and more savvy about profit motives and organizations that seek to influence their selection,” she wrote. “School boards can instead opt to hire a local school boards association (for example, the Tennessee School Boards Association) or a local recruiter with a reputation for personal integrity to conduct a search. They can also choose to hire from within.”

A few months ago, Governor Gavin Newsom and Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond appointed a task force to make recommendations to the State Legislature about the needed reforms of the state charter law. Of the 11 people on the Task Force, several had ties to the charter industry, two work for the California Charter Schools Association, and others are employed by charter schools. I had my doubts. But Superintendent Thurmond read my posts and called me to say, don’t judge me until you see what happens.

When the report was released, it was clear that a majority voted for important reforms of the charter law, while the charter advocates fought against, for example, allowing districts to take into account the fiscal impact of new charters on existing public schools. This was their way of saying, “let us drive public schools into fiscal crisis.” The Task Force did not agree.

Twenty percent of students in LA attend charters. At least 80% of LA charters have vacancies, contrary to phony claims about “long waiting lists.” The UTLA commissioned an audit which concluded that public schools lose $600 million every year to charters.

Howard Blume explained the recommendations of the Task Force report in the Los Angeles Times.

 

Blume writes:

When Los Angeles teachers went on strike in January, a major issue was charter schools: Union leaders talked about halting the growth of these privately operated campuses and exerting more local control over where and how these schools operate.

California took a step in that direction last week with the release of a much-awaited report by a task force set up in the wake of the six-day walkout.

The report supports new restrictions on charters and is expected to shape statewide policy.

One of the most important recommendations was to give a school district more authority when a charter seeks to open within its boundaries. Under current law, a school district must approve the opening of any charter that meets basic requirements.

The idea was to spark competition and give parents high-quality options for their children — and thousands of parents have responded enthusiastically. Charters enroll nearly one in five students in the nation’s second-largest school system.

But one result has been a proliferation of charters in some neighborhoods. Because state funding is based on enrollment, charters as well as district schools have been hard-pressed to attract enough students to remain financially viable, making it difficult to provide a stable academic program.

To address that situation, the task force recommends allowing a school district to forbid the opening of a new charter based on “saturation.” Charter critics say saturation already has become a problem in Boyle Heights and parts of South Los Angeles.

The recommendation on saturation received endorsement from the entire panel, which includes representatives of charter schools.

A smaller bloc, but still a panel majority, would go further. It recommended that school districts be able to deny a proposed charter based on financial harm to the host school district.

The panel did not release details on how individual members voted, but charter groups have vehemently opposed such a restriction. They have argued it could be used to deny any charter petition.

“There are elements that are deeply concerning and require more work ahead,” said Myrna Castrejón, president of the California Charter Schools Assn. “But ultimately, these efforts will play a pivotal role in charting a path forward for California’s students….”

One problem up and down the state has been inconsistent oversight of charters. The panel said California should create one or more entities to develop consistent standards and to train school districts in how to use them.

Some recommendations received majority but not unanimous favor, including limiting when another agency can overrule a local school district’s decision to reject a new charter or close down an existing one.

A majority also wanted to prohibit school districts from authorizing charters located outside district boundaries. Some tiny districts used these faraway charters to generate revenue but provided little to no oversight, as outlined in a Times investigation.

A panel majority also recommended a one-year moratorium on “virtual” charters, which enroll students in an online program. Prosecutors recently indicted 11 people from online charters on criminal charges of conspiracy, personal use of public money without legal authority, grand theft and financial conflict of interest.

 

 

The California Legislature is considering four bills to reform the state’s massive charter school industry (1,300 schools, mostly unregulated and unsupervised). One of the bills would prohibit school districts from authorizing charters in other districts. The following story is a classic example of rural school districts authorizing online charters in San Diego and Los Angeles, solely to get the commission attached to each student. In this case, the online charters were cash cows for their owners. [A personal aside: Last February, I was in Newport Beach, California, having breakfast at a hotel. The man at the next table was loudly discussing his schools with someone who was selling athletic services, $5 a student. When he got up to leave, I asked him if he was “in the charter school business.” He said, “Yes,” and said he owned 40 schools under six different corporate names. I asked him his name. He said, “Sean McManus.” I should have asked him to join us. He is one of the key figures in the following article.]

The San Diego Union-Tribune reports that eleven people connected to online charter schools have been indicted for “criminal charges of conspiracy, personal use of public money without legal authority, grand theft and financial conflict of interest.“

The online charters operate in San Diego and Los Angeles, but were authorized by other districts that get a slice of the revenues. This is one of the corrupt practices that have been rampant in California, where lax state law allows sharp operators to get public money and cheat students with no consequences. The Legislature is currently debating a proposal to stop allowing District A to authorize a charter in District B, a practice that is mercenary and predatory. Until now, the powerful California Charter Schools Association—enriched by billionaires like Reed Hastings and Eli Broad—has fought all accountability for charter schools.

At the center of the allegations are leaders of the charter school management corporation A3 Education, a Newport Beach corporation whose leaders control 13 charter schools across California, according to an indictment filed May 17.

A3’s chairman, Sean McManus, and president, Jason Schrock, essentially owned and operated the charter schools throughout California at the same time that A3 contracted with those schools, according to the indictment.

McManus and Schrock operated multiple businesses that charged their own charter schools millions of dollars for services. Then they channeled money from those businesses into their own charitable trust and personal bank accounts, according to the indictment.

A3 Education and the businesses affiliated with McManus and Schrock together have invoiced at least $83.3 million from the 13 charter schools, according to the indictment.

From the affiliated businesses, at least $8.18 million went into personal bank accounts, some in Australia, and into charitable trust accounts for McManus, Schrock and their wives, and $500,000 went to a family member of McManus, according to the indictment.

McManus and Schrock also used $1.6 million of A3 Education’s funds to buy a private residence for McManus in San Juan Capistrano, the indictment states.

Also according to the indictment, six people, including McManus and Schrock, conspired to collect state money for students who were listed as being enrolled in Valiant Charter Schools but were not receiving services.

The two Valiant schools will close permanently on June 30. Several thousand students will need to find new schools. The San Diego online charter was authorized by the Dehesa School District, and the one in Los Angeles was authorized by the Acton-Agua Dulce Unified School District.

The children were not assigned to teachers who have state-required professional certificates, the indictment said. The students were not in contact with the schools or provided with educational services during the summer months, as some of the co-conspirators claimed, according to the indictment…

Also indicted is Nancy Hauer, who is superintendent of Dehesa School District, which authorized several charter schools, including Valiant Academy of Southern California. The Dehesa district office did not immediately provide a comment Tuesday.

Also among the indicted is Steve Van Zant, a former Mountain Empire Unified superintendent who three years ago pleaded guilty to violating conflict-of-interest laws, after he brokered deals with charter schools to operate in other school districts, prosecutors said at the time.

Valiant Academy had 43 students two years ago, 726 last year, and 2,250 this year. It’s academic performance was so poor that even the California Charter School Association recommended that it be closed.

Betsy DeVos says that parents always know what’s best. Why were they enrolling their children in these failing “schools.”?

 

 

 

 

Anthony Cody was taken aback when he saw that pundit Alexander Russo was critical of the media for ganging up against Betsy DeVos when she explained at a budget hearing why she was defunding the Special Olympics. Russo seemed to think that the media critique of DeVos may have been the work of “advocates and trolls,” special interests blowing up a story that was a Nothingburger. Russo treated the hearing as a ho-hum event, nothing new.

But Cody, who sat behind DeVos throughout the hearing, saw plenty that was new.

First, Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro grilled DeVos about the new report by the Network for Public Education which documented that the federal Charter Schools Program had wasted nearly $1 billion on charter schools that either never opened or closed soon after opening. The basic issue was that the Department of Education was handing out millions of dollars without fact-checking the applications. Yet DeVos was seeking a $60 million increase for this slipshod, wasteful program while asking to cut or eliminate many other programs. Russo didn’t find that newsworthy.

There was another important story that Russo found to be not newsworthy. Anthony Cody became part of that story because of the expression on his face as he sat directly behind DeVos.

He writes:

“In fact, I wound up being a part of a whole OTHER viral story that Russo doesn’t even mention – the moment when Lucille Roybal-Allard asks DeVos to explain her absurd belief that larger class sizes may benefit students. And although I am indeed an advocate (if not a troll) I had very little to do with this clip going viral — 8.4 million views at last count.”

Cody complains that Russo has tried to set himself up as the “ethical minder” of education journalism. But anyone with an ethical barometer should be appalled every day by the unethical actions of DeVos, as she rolls back civil rights protections, undercuts students who were defrauded by for-profit “colleges,” and campaigns against the nation’s public schools. She is a novelty: the first person to lead either the Department of Education (established in 1980) or the U.S. Office of Education (established in 1867) who was actively opposed to public schools. That should be a daily story, kind of like having an Environmental Protection Agency head who doesn’t believe in protecting the environment.

I have my own beef with Russo.

In the spring of 2010, I published The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice Are Undermining Education.

It got a lot of attention because I had been deeply embedded in prominent rightwing think tanks (the Koret Task Force at the Hoover Institution and the Thomas B. Fordham Institute), and in the book  I renounced policies and a worldview I had espoused for years. It became a national bestseller. The very fact that anyone had changed her mind was a big deal.

Many months later, I was contacted by Russo. He invited me to meet with him at a cafe near my home in Brooklyn. We had a nice getting-to-know-you chat. I told him that I had cast the deciding vote in his favor as a judge of the Spencer Fellowships, and he thanked me. Towards the end of our meeting, he asked if I would be willing to read his book about the Green Dot charter chain and write a blurb for the jacket. I agreed to do so. I found the book informative and I wrote a blurb.

Some weeks later, a friend sent me Russo’s latest article, in which he criticized me and said I could not be trusted because I changed my mind and could do it again. I am paraphrasing here. Basically, he implied that I was an intellectual or political whore, lacking in sincerity or conviction.

I was stunned. As soon as I got over the shock of being attacked by someone I thought was a friend, I called his publisher and asked to speak to his editor. When I reached her, I said I wanted my blurb off his book. She explained that the jacket was in production, and it was too late. I read to her what Alexander Russo had written about me, and there was a long pause. She said, “I agree with you. We will take your blurb off the jacket.”

I have never mentioned his name since then, and hope I never again have reason to do so.

 

 

The Inspector General in every federal department is supposed to be an independent watchdog, a maintainer of high ethical standards and legal propriety.

Betsy DeVos tried to fire the ED Inspector General, and it didn’t go well.

Jan Resseger explains what happened here.

Now, however, it turns out that DeVos’s motive for trying to fire Sandra Bruce was far more suspicious than just an attempt to hire someone who would protect the pet projects of the Department. It looks as though DeVos tried to fire Sandra Bruce because, as part of her job as Inspector General, Bruce was investigating DeVos’s reinstatement last November of Departmental approval for a shady accrediting agency of for-profit colleges, the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS). Late in 2015, The Obama Department of Education had removed approval of ACICS as a federal accreditor of for-profit colleges.

As usual, Resseger gets to the heart of the matter.

 

Scott Schmerelson is a hero of public education. I add him to the blog’s honor roll. He has singlehandedly forced transparency on a superintendent and school board that is trying to hide basic facts about the district. First, he released the fact that 82% of all charter schools in Los Angeles have vacancies while the LAUSD board (bought by Eli Broad and friends) echoed the false claim about long waiting lists. No long waiting lists. Many vacancies. No need for new charters.

Then he forced the Superintendent Austin Beutner to release a list of secret payments to vendors who are helping him develop his plan to disrupt and disorganize the district.

Mr. Beutner, who is an equity investor from the private sector, apparently didn’t realize that public business is conducted in public, not behind closed doors or in secret.

One of the reasons that the cost of education rises while teachers’ pay is stagnant is because of the diversion of public funds to consultants who go from district to district, selling services that are not needed or that have failed repeatedly. Or just plain old cronyism.

Howard Blume wrote in the Los Angeles Times:

Outside consultants working on a plan to restructure the Los Angeles Unified School District were asked to develop a performance-based rating system for schools and to shift hiring and purchasing of services from the central district office to local campus networks, according to confidential contracts provided to The Times.

The contracts were released last week in response to repeated requests since October from Board of Education member Scott Schmerelson. The consultants’ work was not disclosed, but Schmerelson plans to continue to press to make it public.

District officials had declined requests from the Times and others to make the contracts public as Supt. Austin Beutner developed his reform plan, which he said is meant to save money and improve student success by bringing decision-making and resources closer to the campus level.

The contracts also became an issue in the weeks leading up to the January teachers’ strike, when union leaders and their members expressed concern about where Beutner — a businessman with no background in education management — would take the nation’s second-largest school system.The contracts total $3 million so far, with the largest amounts going to Ernst & Young ($1.5 million), which specializes in business services and consulting, and the Kitamba Group ($765,000), whose focus is education. The agreements are being administered by the nonprofit California Community Foundation and paid for by private donors, including the Ballmer Group, the California Community Foundation, the California Endowment, the Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation and the Weingart Foundation.

According to its contract, Ernst & Young’s mission was to analyze how the district can better use resources and cut costs in purchasing, food services, technology and transportation, as well as deal with work-related injuries and adjust its general financial practices. The work was to be completed, with a full report, before the end of November. It is not clear if that timetable was met.

Kitamba was to have developed a working definition of a “great school” and to have designed a “network structure” by the end of 2018. The Times reported in November that Beutner was considering assigning all schools to one of about 32 different networks.

Kitamba’s contract also said the company would help the district develop a way for officials to discuss giving letter grades to schools, ranking them on a 100-point scale or assigning them a color to denote their status. Kitamba was also to have developed measures that could be taken when a school fell short of standards. The triggers for taking action were to be developed in draft form by last September.

By December of 2018, each school was to have a performance rating along with a summary explanation. The goal by mid-February, according to Kitamba’s contract, was to “engage” on the plan with central office and school staff as well as with students and families. A media campaign also was due to roll out, with the new school networks slated to launch next September.

The Kitamba contract also proposed that each school network be allowed to choose or refuse “services” from the central office. The proposal does not specify which services, or say where the services would come from if the networks reject the central district’s offerings.

But the New York City school system tried a similar plan, starting in 2007, allowing local nonprofits to compete against the district to provide services. After about eight years, New York abandoned the plan, which cut costs but did not improve student achievement.

Kitamba, in the contract documents, cited its previous work in Midland, Texas as an example of how it would carry out its duties. In Midland and some other Texas school districts, schools or networks of schools are supposed to have autonomy, but individual schools are rated every year and there can be serious consequences for those with low student achievement.

The Texas plan calls for creating new schools, replicating successful ones and “restarting” struggling ones.

A $595,000 restructuring contract was also awarded to former Newark schools Supt. Cami Anderson to make services to students with disabilities cheaper and more effective.

KUDOS to Howard Blume for excellent reporting which digs below the surface of the LAUSD claims.